A little extract from the WIP

I had a post planned for today on my experience so far with NaNoWriMo, but unforeseen circumstances stole two hours of writing time and I’m kinda on a roll, so I’m going to postpone that post for later.  In the meantime, here’s an extract from a scene I wrote today.  I’d love to hear what you think.

You should also go check out this post by Ava Jae on how she finished NaNoWriMo in just nine days.  I don’t know about applying her strategy to my own writing, but still…respect!

Oh, and be sure to watch this space on Friday for a VERY IMPORTANT announcement.  Trust me, you’re not gonna want to miss it.

But without further ado, this scene is entitled:

Bad Dreams

“Hello?  Can anyone hear me?  I think I’m lost.  I need help.”

Her voice echoes through the trees.  She suddenly feels very alone.

She hears laughter.  Children’s laughter.  Playful.  Innocent.  Cold shoots through her body and she shudders.

“Has the pretty lady come to play with us?”

“Play with us!  Play with us!  Play with us!”

She desperately wants to run, but it feels as if her feet have taken root.  She looks down and she can’t see them.  Her legs are buried up to her knees.  Her arms are rigid like the branches of a tree.  She opens her mouth to scream, but no sound escapes.  A creeping vine crawls up her body and wraps its tendrils around her neck, strangling her.

Cat.  You must run.

I can’t, she thinks, unable to talk.  I can’t move.  I can’t breathe.  I can’t see.

You can.  Don’t let them deceive you.  You must run.  Come to us, sister.  RUN!

A terrible screech fills the air.  She is free.  Something reaches for her but she pushes it away and runs.  She has no idea where she’s going, but that doesn’t matter as long as it’s away from here.

She can hear them pursue her, whooping and cackling behind her.  They’re enjoying this.  She’s the hare and they’re the hounds.  She knows they are going to catch her.

This way, sister.  Come to us, Cat.

She turns toward the voice and hears something whistling past her head.  Her lungs are burning and her muscles ache.  She can’t run much farther.

Her foot catches on something and she falls.  Before she can recover something lands on her back, forcing the air from her lungs.  Hands claw at her body while others pin her arms and legs to the ground.

She struggles against them, but they’re too strong.  The creature on her back pushes her head into the soft earth.  Her mouth is full of soil.  She’s suffocating.  She screams, but there’s no one to hear.

Cat.  Cat, wake up.

“Wake up, Cat!”

She was in her room.  Her father was standing over her, pale with worry.  Daniel stood by the door.  He looked scared.  It was still light outside the window.

“What’s going on.  What are you doing here?”

“You were having a bad dream, hon.  You were thrashing and screaming in your sleep.  I’ve been trying to wake you for the past minute.”

Cat still felt as if she couldn’t breathe.  She got up and pushed her father out of the way.

“I need to get some fresh air.  I need to get out of here.”

“It’s still raining outside…”

“I don’t care.”

She brushed past Daniel and out the front door.  She ran around the cabin to the back and fell to her knees.  She took great gulping breaths and didn’t even notice the cold rain soaking her.

Slowly her breathing returned to normal.  She was shaking.  She had never felt such terror.  For a moment she was afraid that this was the dream and that she would wake up in a moment.  When that didn’t happen she took a deep breath to steady herself and carefully got to her feet.

Her father and Daniel didn’t come out after her.  She had better go back inside and set their minds at ease.

As she turned she spotted movement out of the corner of her eye.  She peered at the edge of the woods.  The undergrowth was very thick.  It must have been a fern or something moving in the wind.

She turned around again and started back when she got a prickly feeling on the back of her neck.  The same terror as she had felt in the dream rose inside her, forcing her eyes round to the trees once more, forcing her to look directly into it’s eyes.

A scream strangled in her throat as she tripped over her own feet.  She scrambled backwards until she felt the wall of the cabin at her back.  The eyes were watching her intently, studying her.  Then they were gone.

Cat sat there, afraid to move, until her father eventually came to find her.  He didn’t say anything, but picked her up as if she was a little girl, carried her back inside and laid her on the couch.

Copyright © 2013 Herman Kok

20 thoughts on “A little extract from the WIP

  1. Thanks for sharing that scene. I think it’s excellent and I loved the way you ramped up the suspense. Especially at the end. I should have seen it coming, but didn’t, and so got a nice shock (to add to the chills from the dream sequence: “Play with us! Play with us! Play with us!” – a prospect so horrific that it actually made me sit up in my chair.)

    I guess I should add some constructive criticism, but just to be contrary (and with apologies to John Howell, who makes excellent points), I’ll return to a bit that’s already been given. I actually quite liked your use of repetition 😉 Perhaps it wasn’t deliberate, but using ‘forcing’ in such close succession, I think, was a very effective way to emphasize the horror and coercive power of whatever terror is pursuing poor Cat. Sure, avoid repetition when you can, but I say embrace it sometimes too!


    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad I’m able to evoke some terror. I am trying to write a thriller, after all. I just hope I can do it again later in the novel – this scene takes place very early in the story.


  2. A really good piece, this. I loved the nightmare in particular: well-paced with some truly spectacular imagery. It would actually work really well as an opening, though I’m assuming that it isn’t. Like others have said, I was left wanting more when the extract ended.

    Also like some of the earlier comments, I have a single nitpick to share: “What’s going on? What are you doing here” feels like it ought to be credited. It becomes apparent very quickly that it’s Cat’s line, but…well, that’s just my gut feeling..

    Best of luck with the rest of Nano :D. Sounds like its going well.


    1. Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, I’m still figuring out what to do with dialogue tags. I prefer to keep them to a minimum and as short as possible when I do use them, but I’ll how it looks during the rewrite.


  3. I was going to say “great post,” but you talked me out of it. I think the setting is perfect and timing is right. The story is one that begs to be read and that is a good thing. I only had one comment and it is a nit. In this sentence, “forcing her eyes round to the trees once more, forcing her to look directly into it’s eyes,” maybe another word for “forcing” could be used the second time. Also the ‘it’s” should be “its” if you keep it. Might be better with a plural “their” since she is looking at “trees.” Said they were nits and it’s a good story


    1. Can’t believe I messed up an it’s vs. its. I’m horribly pedantic about that! I’m staying with “its”, as it will later become clear that a creature is watching her from the trees.

      Repetition is one of my faults. I’ll be paying special attention to it in the rewrite as right now I’m just trying to get the thing written down, but thanks for pointing it out. What I fix now doesn’t need to be fixed later.


  4. I love the creepiness of this excerpt. You’ve got the tempo exactly right. It makes me want to read more of the story. Well done! My one niggling critique would be the use of the “round” in the third to last paragraph. Living in England, I’ve noticed that people use it like this: “I’ll pop round to your house later” but it should be “around”. I think that it’s fine if it’s in dialogue to denote speech patterns but you should probably avoid it in description. Unless something is actually round.

    Otherwise well done, you! I look forward to your announcement!


    1. Update: according to the OED my use of “round” is correct but is mostly found in British English. American English prefers the use of “around”.

      As I’m writing in British English (it being the version used in SA), I’ll leave it as is for now, but it’s definitely something to check in terms of consistency later on.


      1. Ah, I see. That could explain why it doesn’t work for me. I find that this is one of the difficulties I have with being an American living in Britain. I use British spellings (because I need some form of consistency and when in Rome…) but I don’t use British words in my writing that I would never use in speaking. ie. disoriented (US) vs disorientated (UK).

        ‘Round’ is one that I haven’t looked up yet, but I’ve been seeing it used in stories in the same context as ‘around’ is used quite a lot lately. I probably should have looked it up earlier because I find it really jarring. So, thanks for clearing that one up for me.


      2. See, in SA we officially use the Queen’s English, but reality is a bastard British-American-whatever-else-you’d-like-to-throw-into-the-mix hybrid. For now I’m writing what comes naturally, but I’ll have to edit for some kind of consistency later, especially if I want the novel to be acceptable for international markets.


      3. Yes, you should definitely write what comes naturally. I tend to over analyse words because I’ve spent the past 10 years being told that I say everything incorrectly so I have to look things up all the time. It’s turned me into a pedant. But hopefully you know that I mean it in a helpful way and not a ‘you’re doing it wrong’ kind of way. I like it when people point these things out to me in my writing because I’ve learned a lot about word usage and it helps me to make decisions on what words I want to use. I don’t want to be annoying though. 🙂


      4. You’re not annoying at all. I much prefer a comment that tells me something specific is wrong and how to fix it than vague comments or ones simply saying “great post”. I’m a born perfectionist (as in straightening the pictures on the wall in other people’s homes), so trust me, people accuse me of being pedantic all the time and I know how you feel 😉

        Rather comment and we both learn from it than not where no one learns.


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